13th July 2019
The Spanish Navy Harrier
RNAS Yeovilton is one of two principal naval air bases in the UK, the other being RNAS Culdrose. In the absence of an airshow at RNAS Culdrose in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Yeovilton Air Day is currently the only airshow based at a Royal Naval Air Station in the UK.
On July 13th 2019, the Air Station’s gates once again opened to an estimated 40,000 visitors, providing the perfect opportunity to see naval equipment and meet the Station's personnel. There was over five hours of flying displays and an extensive static display, featuring historic and modern naval aircraft.
The show, understandably, has a strong naval content, including a wealth of naval helicopters but it also demonstrated the Maritime Capability and Air Power not only from the Royal Navy but also from the British Army, the Royal Air Force and NATO and European allies.
The first display aircraft to be announced were all from Lithuania. A Lithuanian Air Force L-39C Albatros jet trainer made its UK flying display debut at the show. Two aircraft that were on the ground last year, their C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft and Mi-8UTV Hip troop transport/search and rescue helicopter, also returned to the static display in 2019. (... continued below the table)
|National aerobatic teams|
|Royal Jordanian Falcons (4 x Extra 300LX)|
|Fighters / Attack|
|Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF)|
|F-16AM (Belgian Air Force)|
|Lockheed Martin F-35B, 617 Squadron, RAF Marham, Flypasts only|
|Harrier (EAV-8B Harrier II Plus, Spanish Navy)|
|Breguet Br.1050 Alizé (Association Alizé Marine)|
|Combined Maritime Role Demo by the Wildcat HMA2 and Merlin HM2.|
|Westland Wessex HU5 (airshow debut - opening the show)|
|Attack Helicopter Display Team (AHDT) Apache (British Army)|
|SA316B Alouette III (Belgian Air Force)|
|Westland Wasp HAS1 XT420 (Navy Wings)|
| ||Black Cats (solo) (RN)|
|Westland Scout (Historic Army Aircraft Flight)|
|Agusta-Bell Sioux AH Mk1 (XT131 G-CICN) (Historic Army Aircraft Flight)|
|Hawker Sea Fury T20 (Navy Wings)|
|Strikemaster pair, G-SOAF and G-RSAF|
||BBMF Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane|
|Auster (Historic Army Aircraft Flight)|
|Beaver (Historic Army Aircraft Flight)|
|Swordfish MkI 'W5856' (Navy Wings)|
|Fouga CM.175 Zéphyr (Association Zéphyr 28) |
|Morane-Saulnier MS.760 Paris (Armor Aéro Passion)|
|Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros jet trainer (Lithuania) (cancelled)|
|North American AT-6C Texan (Harvard IIA) (Anglian War Birds)|
|Team Daedalus: Beechcraft T-6A Texan II Demo Team (Hellenic Air Force) |
|CC-130J-30 Hercules (RCAF) was to be a UK debut of a tactical demo. Now a flypast|
|'Ironman' flying using a personal jet-suit (Gravilty Industries)|
Apache (Army Air Corps)|
Austers x 11 (each military type)
Avenger T1 (Royal Navy)
Avro C19 Anson (BAe Systems)
C-17A Globemaster III (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
C-17A Globemaster III (United States Air Force)
C-27J Spartan tactical transport (Lithuania)
C-130J-30 Hercules (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
CP-140 Aurora (Royal Canadian AF)
EC135 (Irish Air Corps)
F-35B full sized model with cockpit access
F/A-18E Super Hornet x2 (from NAS Lemoore) cancelled
Fairey Swordfish Mk II 'LS326' (Navy Wings)
Gazelle x3 (Gazelle Squadron)
Harrier (Spanish Navy) also another in flying display
Hawk T1 (Royal Navy)
Hawker Hunter F58A (Hawker Hunter Aviation) cancelled
Lockheed P-3C Orion (German Navy)
Meteor T7 (1 or 2) cancelled
Mi-8UTV Hip (Lithuania) cancelled
P-72A, multi-mission maritime aircraft (Italian Navy)
P180M Avanti (Italian Navy)
Sea Fury FBII VR930
Sea King HU5 (Heli Operations) cancelled
The ‘Dark Falcon’, piloted by Captain Stefan ‘Vador’ Darte, returned to give one of only two UK airshow displays in the 2019 season. The ‘Dark Falcon’ is the Belgian Air Force’s striking F-16 Fighting Falcon. Last year the display, with its fast-paced aerobatic manoeuvres, smoke trails and flare releases won the Best Fixed-Wing Flying Display award at Yeovilton Air Day.
This year the focus of attention for those seeking out the jets was shared with an F-35B Lightning from the RAF's legendary 617 Squadron, based at RAF Marham, making its Royal Navy International Air Day debut at the 2019 show. The F-35 did not perform a full display but made two passes: one slow and one fast. For those who wanted a closer look at an F-35, there was be a full-sized F-35B model with cockpit access on static display.
One of the most popular displays was, inevitably, the Spanish Navy Harrier, making its first Royal Navy International Air Day appearance for ten years: the last being Air Day 2009 for Fly Navy 100. For many years a Harrier was amongst the highlights of any UK airshows’ flying programme before the type was retired nearly a decade ago. The EAV-8B Harrier II Plus from 9 Squadron, based at Rota Naval Base, displayed some of the type’s legendary capabilities of hovering, turning on the spot, flying backwards and sideways and landing vertically. A second Spanish Navy Harrier was on static display to give visitors the chance of a closer look. RNAS Yeovilton has a long association with the Harrier, having been the home base for the Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier squadrons for over 25 years from 1979.
The Hellenic Air Force’s T-6A Texan II demonstration team 'Daedalus' made its UK debut at the 2019 Royal Navy International Air Day. The team was formed in 2005 and is part of No 120 Air Training Wing based at Kalamata Air Force base in southern Greece. Very rarely seen outside its home nation, its mount is the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II turboprop trainer, painted in a smart two-tone blue and white colour scheme.
One of the undoubted highlights opened the show on 13th July. The world's only flying Westland Wessex HU5 made its airshow debut at Yeovilton. The Wessex was manufactured by Westland at Yeovil. After serving as a troop transport, search and rescue helicopter and Falklands veteran, and after renovation that was only finished weeks before the show, with a first post-renovation flight in February 2019, it was back where it all began.
The award winners for Air Day 2019 were
Best Rotary Wing Flying Display: @HistoricFlt
Best Rotary Wing Static Display: Whirlwind HAR Mark10
Best Fixed Wing Static Display: Qatar Emiri Air Force C-17
Best Fixed Wing Flying Display: T-6A Texan II ‘Daedalus’ Demo Team
Westland Wessex HU5
The Wessex was able to carry sixteen combat-ready troops into battle. 100 Wessex HU5s were built including XT761, which rolled off the production line in 1966. It went on to equip 845 NAS, 848 NAS and latterly 771 NAS, whose bright red and blue Search and Rescue colours it wears today. In private ownership, XT761 now belongs to Historic Helicopters’ fleet of airworthy types and return-to-flight projects, based at nearby Chard. It is also part of the Navy Wings associate collection, alongside other classic naval aircraft and helicopter designs.
Text RNAS Yeovilton. Photo Kevin Wills.
The Wessex was the Fleet Air Arm's first purpose-built anti-submarine helicopter. The initial Wessex HAS1 (Helicopter Anti-Submarine) entered service in 1961, followed by the HU5 Commando variant two years later. Able to carry sixteen combat-ready troops into battle, Wessex HU5s served all RNAS Yeovilton's Commando Helicopter Squadrons in the early-mid 1970s. Key deployments included the 1982 Falklands Conflict, during which Wessex transported and inserted British Special Forces personnel and ferried in fuel, equipment and weapons.
Another helicopter at Yeovilton will be the Belgian Air Force's long-serving SA316B Alouette IIIs. First flown sixty years ago, the Alouette III is already a rare sight at air displays in the UK and as it is due to retire in 2023 its remaining displays may be few.
The Army Air Corps' Attack Helicopter Display Team is another rarity at the show. There were no displays by the AHDT at all last year and this year there will be only four, one of which will be at Yeovilton. The Apache AH1 can fly in all types of weather, by day or night, and is armed with missiles, rockets and a helmet-guided 30mm chain gun. Introduced in 2001, it made its combat debut in Afghanistan five years later.
The first confirmed Royal Navy display is a combined Maritime Role Demo by the Wildcat HMA2 and Merlin HM2 helicopters.
The French Navy will be well represented, too. Three aircraft with French navy connections will be flying at the show: Breguet Br.1050 Alizé, the Fouga CM.175 Zéphyr and the Morane-Saulnier MS.760 Paris. The Alizé joined the French Navy in 1959 and was not retired until 2000. Its roles included surface-scanning, reconnaissance and electronic surveillance. The only flying Alizé is owned and displayed at airshows by the Association Alizé Marine, based at Nimes in the south of France. This will be the first time the Alizé has displayed at a UK airshow since it has been in civilian ownership. The Zéphyr was developed from the V-tailed Fouga Magister for carrier-launched naval training use. Introduced in 1959, it served with the French Navy until 1994. Zéphyr 28’s unique representative of the 30 built flies in 1961 Escadrille 595 display team markings. The Paris four-seat light communications aircraft first flew in 1954. The French Navy received 14, which were in service between 1961 and 1997. Europe’s only airworthy Paris belongs to Armor Aéro Passion and will present its graceful form over Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton once more.
The Strikemaster Pair's close formation and synchronised aerobatics will be on show at Yeovilton. Both aircraft are in Omani colours: Mk80A G-RSAF in the colours of the Sultan of Oman Air Force and Mk82A G-SOAF in the colours of Royal Air Force of Oman.
There will be several treats on the static line-up, too. A Lockheed P-3C Orion from the German Navy was the first confirmed 'heavy' static at the show. One of eight based at Nordholz in northern Germany, this large four-engined submarine-hunter picked up the Best Fixed Wing Static Display award last year. The now-sixty-year-old Orion is a classic maritime patrol aircraft. Developed for the US Navy - with which it still serves - it has been upgraded over the years with ever-more sophisticated detection equipment. Germany's Orions - which typically carry out North Sea patrols but have also supported anti-piracy operations around the Horn of Africa - are being modernised with new tactical mission systems that'll keep them operational until the mid-2030s.
One of the stars will be the fifth year in a row for the 315th Airlift Wing’s mighty Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft. Stationed at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, the unit not only flies thousands of miles each July to take part in the show whilst undertaking transport sorties but also regularly opens up the Globemaster’s 88-foot-long cargo hold for public walk-throughs.
Another major feature amongst the static aircraft will be a big gathering of former military observation platforms. At its core is an unprecedented Auster line-up of every military model, from the Taylorcraft Auster 1 to the Auster AOP11 and Beagle Husky. These characterful, high-winged types excelled as airborne ‘spotters’, especially in Normandy when they were the first powered aircraft to land after D-Day and later proved themselves once again over jungle territory in the Far East.
Also amongst the statics will be an ex-Chinese Air Force Nanchang CJ-6A and an Aeronca L-3B Grasshopper, a contemporary of the WWII Auster models. The Grasshopper on display is one of only two airworthy examples outside North America.
There will also be a privately-owned Cessna O-1A Birddog in the markings of the French Army. The type was produced throughout the 1950s and US military examples were extensively deployed and widely-tasked in Vietnam.
At least one, possibly both, of Europe’s only airworthy Gloster Meteors will be making a return appearance to the Royal Navy International Air Day’s static display. Both are trainer versions of the Royal Air Force’s first jet fighter, now employed as trials aircraft by ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker. Featuring modified rear cockpits, they have supported countless combat aircraft development programmes over the years, including that for the Royal Navy’s next-generation F-35B Lightning II.
BAE Systems’ unique Avro XIX is once again taking part in the show. The only flying example of the WWII Avro Anson trainer’s civilian version, it is owned by BAe Systems and is based with the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden. Painted as a Royal Air Force Anson C19, it will represent an unsung but important post-war Fleet Air Arm type in Air Day’s static display.
Alongside the five hour flying display and static aircraft, the show provides an opportunity to see some outstanding equipment and meet professional personnel in a family-friendly environment. There will also be a huge array of ground attractions, from engineering fairs to the latest defence technology exhibitions, Service displays, trade stalls, arena displays, simulators, fairground rides and helicopter pleasure flights.
Yeovilton Air Day
Belgian F-16: one of three F-16s that flew at Yeovilton Air Day 2018
A Sea King ASaC7 from 849 Naval Air Squadron opened Air Day 2018. It performed a flypast accompanied by a pair of Wildcats followed by a final acknowledgment to the crowd in its last ever appearance at an Air Day, months before its retirement. The Fly Navy Heritage Trust’s Hawker Sea Fury T20 and the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron MiG-15 also flew together, paying tribute to the famous confrontation in which a MiG-15 was shot down by a Royal Navy Sea Fury in 1952: a very rare victory of a piston-engined aircraft over a jet. A second Sea Fury, the FB11 from the Royal Navy Historic Flight was on static display.
|Flying (tap / hover over icon for more detail)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF)|
|Supermarine Spitfire x2 (BBMF)|
|Sea King ASaC7 (Fly Navy Heritage Trust) (Flypast to open the show)|
|Wildcat HMA2 x2 (Flypast with SeaKing)|
|Wildcat HMA2 (solo display with pyros)|
|F-16 (Royal Danish Air Force)|
|F-16 'Zeus' (Hellenic Air force)|
||F-16 (Belgian Air Force)|
|Royal Jordanian Falcons|
|Rafale x 2 (French Navy)|
|Atlantique 2 (French Navy) CANCELLED|
|Bo105C (The Flying Bulls)|
|Bristol 171 Sycamore (The Flying Bulls)|
|Saab JAS-39C Gripen (Czech Air Force)|
|Aero L-159A ALCA (Czech Air Force) CANCELLED|
|Richard Goodwin Modified Pitts S-2S Special|
|Hawker Sea Fury T.20 (Navy Wings)|
|Swordfish W5856 (Navy Wings)|
|Fouga Zéphyr (Association Zéphyr 28)|
|Morane-Saulnier Paris (Armor Aéro Passion)|
|Falcon 50M (French Navy)|
|Aero L-39 Albatross (Lithuania)
AS532U2 Cougar (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
Auster AOP6 TW536
Auster AOP9 WZ706
Avenger T1 (Royal Navy)
Boeing C-17A Globemaster III (USAF)
C-27J Spartan (Lithuanian Air Force)
CC-130J Hercules (RCAF)
C-130J-30 Hercules (Royal Norwegian Air Force) CANCELLED
Cessna 182 Amphibian
Chipmunk T10 WP903
F-4K Phantom FG1 (Royal Navy)
Falcon 50M (French Navy) (now flying)
Fairey Swordfish LS326
Hawk T1 (Royal Navy)
KDC-10 Extender (Royal Netherlands Air Force) CANCELLED
Lynx HAS4 (French Navy)
Merlin HM2 x2 (Royal Navy)
Meteor T7 x 2 (Martin-Baker)
Mil Mi-8 'Hip' (Lithuania)
NH90 NFH Caiman (French Navy)
NH90 NFH (Royal Netherlands Navy)
O-1A Bird Dog 51-16957
P-8A Poseidon (United States Navy)
Pitts S-2S (Richard Goodwin)
Queen Bee LF858
Sea Fury FB11 (Royal Navy Historic Flight)
Sea Harrier FA2
Sea King HU5 (HeliOperations)
Sea Vixen FAW2
W-11 Boredom Fighter
Wildcat HMA2 x3 (Royal Navy)
Two rare historic post-war French naval aircraft both made their UK mainland flying display debuts at Air Day. The V-tailed Fouga Zéphyr jet trainer and the Morane-Saulnier Paris trainer/liaison aircraft performed solo routines and flew in formation with the modern French Navy’s Rafale M multirole fighters. They were to have flown with an Atlantique 2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft which was to have made its first UK display for 15 years but the appearance was cancelled.
World Cup Football
An unusual airshow entertainment was world cup football on a large screen. It was out of the way of the flying so did not obstruct views of the aircraft.
There was a debut for the Lithuanian Air Force at the show. They sent two aircraft for the static display: an Aero L-39 Albatros jet trainer and a Mil Mi-8T utility helicopter. The L-39 Albatros was a real success for Czech firm Aero Vodochody. During a 25-year production run, 2,900 were built and supplied to almost 50 militaries. Lithuania, and around a dozen other nations, have the L-39ZA armed trainer/light attack variant. Its duties include surveying and defending Lithuanian airspace.
The Mil Mi-8 (NATO codenamed ‘Hip’) is the world’s most-produced helicopter: more than 17,000 examples of the Soviet-origin design have been manufactured. Lithuania only uses three Mi-8Ts (‘Hip-Cs’) in troop transport and search and rescue roles.
The Flying Bulls brought two helicopters to Yeovilton. One was their Bölkow Bo105 'heli-batics' display. First flown in 1967, the agile Bo105 introduced twin engines and a hingeless rotor system to light utility helicopter design. The other is the only flying Bristol Sycamore in the world. The Sycamore was first flown in July 1947, becoming flight-certified and entering Royal Air Force service ahead of all other British-designed helicopters. The example that flew at Yeovilton was built in 1957 and is ex-German military.
The Czech Air Force returned to Air Day with their Saab JAS 39C Gripen after 2017's success, when it won the ‘Best Fixed Wing Display’ award jointly with the French Navy Rafale pair. This year Captain Ivo Kardoš was the pilot of this lightweight multirole fighter, used by the Czech Air Force for air defence.
The list of flying and static displays is in the table.
Before WWll much of the land on which RNAS Yeovilton stands was owned by the Church of England. The admiralty Air Division commandeered it in 1939 and the first runway was operational in 1941. During the war the station was home for an increasing number of naval air squadrons and afterwards became one of the main demobilization centres for the Royal Navy.
RNAS Yeovilton, also known as HMS Heron, is now one of two principal naval air bases in the UK, the other being RNAS Culdrose. Over 100 aircraft are based here, belonging to front-line squadrons and training units including all Fleet Air Arm Lynx and the Commando Helicopter Force.
Yeovilton also houses the vintage aircraft of the RN Historic Flight and the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
Yeovilton International Air Day 2017
Great War Display Team
This ‘Fly Navy’ airshow will showcase the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, its current capabilities and historic achievements.
In 2017 the first Royal Navy aircraft will touch down on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, as she sets sail to begin sea trials. Operational evaluation and testing of the F-35B Lightning multirole fighter will continue; Wildcat helicopters will partner front-line destroyers and frigates and the RNAS Yeovilton Air Day itself celebrates its 70th anniversary: the first show took place in 1947.
The Air Station’s gates open to an estimated 40,000 visitors, providing the perfect opportunity to see naval equipment and meet the Station's personnel.
The show will feature a wide selection of teams from foreign armed forces. The Belgian Air force is sending its ever-popular F-16 display with Commandant Tom "Gizmo" De Moortel in the pilot's seat for the third and final year. The JAS 39C Gripen solo display from the Czech Air Force won the Best Fixed Wing Display award at Air Day 2013 and is back this year. Air Day will also see the UK airshow debut of the Aero L-159 Alca duo display from the Czech Air Force. Starting and ending with a pairs take off and landing, the routine demonstrates many of the aggressive light combat aircraft’s leading qualities including its power, agility and turn of speed. The Czech Air Force Gripen display, Alca duo and the Belgian Air Force F-16 display are all expected to feature flare releases.
|Due to fly (tap / hover over icon for more detail)|
||Red Arrows |
|Dassault Rafale pair (French Marine Nationale)|
|Wildcat HMA2 x 2 - Maritime Role Demo with pyros & flares |
|Royal Jordanian Falcons|
||Aero L-159A Alca(Czech Air Force) x2|
||Saab JAS-39 Gripen (Czech Air Force)|
|BBMF Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane|
|Great War Display Team (10 expected)|
|Westland Whirlwind HAR10|
||F-16 Belgian Air Force|
|F-16 Fighting Falcon (Royal Danish Air Force)|
|MiG-15 (Norwegian AFHF)|
|T-6 (replaces Skyraider)|
|P-51D Mustang: 'Tall in the Saddle - Hangar 11)|
|Atlantique II (French Navy) (was static - now flying)|
|Royal Navy Raiders Parachute Display Team|
|F16 Demo Team 'Zeus' (Hellenic Air Force)|
|Additionally the following are due to be on static display, but are not flying during the show|
Alca L-159 in Spitfire camo. (Czech Air Force)
Apache AH1 (Army)|
Auster AOP9 G-BURR 'WZ706'
F-16 Fighting Falcon Royal Danish Air Force
F-35 Full Scale Model (Lockheed Martin)
Gazelle HT2 (Gazelle Sqn)
Globemaster (C-17A Globemaster III, USAF)
Lynx Mk90B x 2 (Royal Danish Air Force)
Lynx HAS4 (French Navy)
M-28B1B Bryza (Polish Navy)
McDonnell Douglas F-4K Phantom FG1 (RN)
Merlin HM2 (RN)
Merlin HC3i3 (RN)
Meteor T7 (Martin-Baker Aircraft Co)
NH90 NFH (Royal Netherlands Navy)
Sea Harrier FA2 x 2 (RN)
Sea King ASaC7
Sea King HAS5
Sea Venom FAW21
Stinson Reliant 1
Tucano T1 (RAF)
Typhoon FGR4 (RAF)
Wildcat HMA2 x2
Yak 52 G-YAKX
Yak 52 G-YAKH
Yak 18T G-YAKJ
|Cancelled or withdrawn|
|Sea Vixen (damaged on wheels-up landing following hydraulic failure)|
||Douglas AD-4NA Skyraider (not ready but may still feature in static display)|
|Swordfish W5856 (unserviceable)|
|All appearances are subject to technical, weather and other constraints|
More contributions from abroad include the Royal Jordanian Falcons and Northern Europe’s only flying MiG-15. Operated by the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron, the Cold War jet fighter, which debuted at last year’s RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day, is painted to represent the one flown by Yuri Gagarin.
The Sea Vixen "Foxy Lady" is now resident at RNAS Yeovilton and seemed an obvious flying display until its belly-landing following a display at Duxford. This is really unfortunate as XP924, the only airworthy example of the type, had to curtail its season in 2016 following discovery of a faulty flap. A huge amount of work was necessary to bring the Sea Vixen back to the air and Navy Wings is fundraising to give Foxy the best chance to become airworthy again.
Yeovilton is one of only 5 public displays at which the Apache Attack Helicopter Display Team will perform; again with pyrotechnics if all goes to plan. Other major British displays have been promised from the Eurofighter Typhoon Display Team, the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, featuring the Lancaster. Kennet Aviation's Skyraider, the only airworthy one of its type in the UK, was to have joined the line-up but it has since been replaced by their T-6.
The list of aircraft is in the table.
Yeovilton Air Day is famous for it role demonstrations, although the traditional and famous Air Day Commando Assault Demonstration will not be taking place this year because of operational commitments. It is hoped that the assault demo will return in a future year.
Elsewhere on the ground there will be displays in the arena and hangars, including a Field Gun Competition, live music and a vehicle exhibition.